TOS fanfic by Kasan Soulblade
To my readers,
Tylor one-shot… mainly because I'm feeling guilty I had to kill him off -Yes I feel bad when my characters suffer.. don't look at me like that!- Anyway wrote this to Suikoden2's "Children Playing in the Fields" This has no game spoilers, just a long conversation between Phadria and Tylor about the nature of faith, and some back history on Tylor that I couldn't fit into Shards.
It was spring, one of those quiet mornings where the kiss of dew on the blades of grass seemed magical and the birds warbling their nonsense song seemed to have gotten together the night before to practice and make nonsense into music. There was no jangle of belled boots, all was quiet… for once. Normally he'd walk across that dew his bells jingling, his faux tail catching the dew and setting a rattling wet racket behind him. For once it was quiet, he deserved a day of quiet he decided. A morning in which to just sit back, a cup of tea in hand, and just watch these little things. He sat on his porch, not garbed in white robes turned tan with the dust of a hundred hunts, he wore no ribbon of green about his shoulders, and sported no boots. He wore a earth colored short sleeve tunic, a pair of dun hued pants, and a vest with a hundred and one steel buttons. The vest was a gift of Dirk's and it was the first time since the day of getting I last season that he had been able to wear it. He wiggled the toes of both feet, and for once could see them wiggle. It was nice the quiet, but it was not the best thing about having a day off, Tylor decided as he finished his cup and went to the small house he called his own. What the "best thing" was, was that even though he had woken up early enough to enjoy the sight he was free to linger and enjoy it then go back inside for a nap. Which is exactly what he planed to do.
"Can priests take a day off?" The old woman asked as she set the cup of tea down on a table. As was her norm she was dressed in palest green robes, a white ribbon hung about her shoulders. She had come after noon service and after having a light lunch of sandwiches with her host had come inside the house. It wasn't much, one large room that was a mess of chairs, sported a tossed off rug, a stove, and a table. There was a bundle of rumpled blankets in the back corner, and a curtained off section that hid the privy pot and wash tub, even in rural Iselia it would be called a poor man's house. Tylor would have been given more comfortable chambers had he decided to move in the chapel like most of the priests, but he had refused. Valuing privacy over comfort the strange priest had decided to stay, and finally seeing the place Phardia had to wonder how anyone could live here.
"If the high priestess says yes, then I guess so." Tylor's emerald green eyes seemed to shine with good humor, he knew her disgust at his bachelor life style. His house was no chapel, he worshiped Martel with his words and actions when he donned his robes, here he lived for himself. It was a minor sin, to not offer his scant few 'off' hours to the goddess, but he was too greedy to give it up. He came to this small place to relax, to be normal, shed his holy garb and take a nap, grab a bite, that's all this room/house meant to him and he knew just how damned lucky he was to have it. He'd lose I when he left Iselia, but that day was far in the future and beyond his worry for the moment.
"Well after yesterday I imagine you deserved it." Phadria chuckled. "A dog with a sweet tooth, who would have guessed?"
"And me with a rope of sweets tied around my butt." Tylor chuckled. "Did cause I riot when I jumped over the fruit stand cut through the market and the Mayor's house, and then scrambled up one of his beloved plum trees?"
"No it was when Lloyd's dog chased you, knocked over the fruit pile in front of poor Erru's store, then ran down the market street, and then blazed through the Mayor's house dragging half of Ms. Denur's clothes still tied on her clothes line that rested in the dogs mouth."
"I wish I could of seen Erick's face when Noishe dropped all that woman's laundry in his house ." Tylor ran a hand through his fire hued hair, his lips curled into a smile as he thought of the mayor who had gone through all of that. "It must have been golden."
"It was." Phadria decided it was her place to trim the younger priests good humor for the mayor's suffering somewhat. "How did yesterday's noon service go?"
"Well the birds certainly didn't appreciate me taking up so much room in their tree… but besides that it was woody, very woody."
It would be a cold day in the underworld before Phadria was the one to dull Tylor's laughter, even when reprimanded he always had a smile in his eyes that took the bite out of any would-be lecturers words.
"Well one mystery is solved." The high priestess said, taking a sip from her near empty cup. "Why you never invite anyone here, now I know. You need a wife Tylor, someone to keep you organized, my own Alex was much the same until after we got married."
"Ah but I have one already…" He drew a holy talisman from under his earth hued shirt. "She's not much for house work mind you, but she's still a good lass."
"Tylor!" Phadria laughed, her face marked in wrinkles curled into a smile, and at her age the wrinkles made it look like her smile was multiplied by a goodly number. She freed up a hand and wagged a finger in his face. "We aren't supposed to talk like that, it's a bad example for the children!"
He did not reply only took her cup and refilled it along with his own. He took his old seat across from her, offered her cup to her and then set his own down on the wood. He leaned forward and in a loud whisper said.
"You do know you are talking to a man who stitched bells to his boots, ties a rope with candy filled pouches around his waist, then runs down the street every morning before the sun rises?"
"How could I forget?"
"Well I could never say old age, not to such a young ravishing beauty in the prime of her life." Tylor winked. "So I must say I forgot what you forgot so therefore it never happened because since I don't recall what you forget it gets lost somewhere between one forget and another… I think… Now I've just lost the topic… What were we talking about?"
"I forgot," Phadria chuckled, "Could you be a dear and hand me the sugar please?"
"So long as I don't have to tie antlers to my head." Tylor handed her the sugar, absently turning the spoon in her direction so she could reach it better.
"That would be a sight." Phadria helped herself to that sugar, and offered it to Tylor who turned it down with a waved hand.
"Aye me, but it would confuse the heck out of the younglings. How were they for you his afternoon?"
"Well behaved, though Lloyd did not stay when he saw it was me doing the services."
"Ah, that's my standing request with him. Not too many people have tolerance for a heretic's questions." Tylor sipped his tea and looked at the shocked Phadria with a bit of something darker then his normal humor flashing in his eyes.
"That word is not used lightly in our church Father Tylor." Phadria said in a winter cold voice. "No mater the sect you serve under."
"It's the only word I know to explain Lloyd's situation… Now don't you go running after him and trying to baptize him Holyness." Tylor scolded in a voice was much to her shock as cold as her own. "He can out run and out fox any ambush any of the other priests have set for him thus far, you wont be an different. And it's a known fact that he will bite if captured. Perhaps heretic is too strong a word, perhaps it isn't, but I see I must explain." Tylor sighed, thought for a bit and looked into his superior's eyes. He needed no clue to just how thin a skin of ice he was walking over of the moment. "Lloyd was not raised by a human, Dirk is as ignorant of the Martel faith as any can be. He teaches his boy common sense and it seems to be working out well for them. He's a good boy, restless, tries to help others, but he's about as suited to Martel as a cat is to water."
"We make ourselves suited." Phadria corrected. "Even as one as wild and untamed, as I imagine you were in your youth, can come to the embrace of the Goddess enlightened."
"I wasn't wild in my youth, I was an uptight priest filled with visions of the Goddess Martel's plan. I knew my place and the place of all those around me, and I knew that I was not wrong." Tylor smiled, though it was little more then the baring of teeth, and without the light of humor to reach his eyes it seemed a savage gesture indeed. "I was probably the strictest, most demanding, priests of all time. Certainly my elders praised me as an acolyte for my discipline, my self control, and complete dedication to the Goddess. There was no doubt for them that the pilgrimage would go smoothly, I'd come through it strong in my faith and serve the Goddess as an upright priest."
Phadria blinked, startled, she'd never imagined Tylor being anything but the cheerful playful man he was now. It was in her surprise that she lost her anger at him.
"It's amazing how illusions shatter, hurts like hell when I happens. Oh I had faith, but it was the faith of a glass shield, and like glass it broke." Tylor snapped his fingers. "Just like that. It happened when I met a little kid just like Lloyd. Would you believe I didn't like children back then?"
Phadria shook her head but Tylor wasn't looking at her, was staring at his cup as if visions would come from the leaves floating around in the green liquid.
"Hated them, too antsy, never could sit through a sermon, drove me absolutely wild. That kid asked one question too many and I lost my temper, cuffed him on his ear and he went away." The emerald eyes gleamed with bitterness. "Goddess I was such an ass, didn't even think about till I was long gone, I couldn't sleep and I guess it was the guilt for hitting the poor kid upside the head. Funny thing is, his mother thanked me for doing it, said the boy needed more discipline since his father had been killed by the Desians..." Tylor took a long swallow of the tea and grimaced as the hot liquid went down his throat and tried to cook every inch of it. "I went off the road when I realized what was troubling me, pulled out my copy of the holy text, and I couldn't find an answer. Never had those words not given me an answer, never. If I've ever been double crossed it was then, and like anyone double crossed I wanted to do everything in my power to make that person to hurt as much as I did. So I did. I took off my robes stuffed them in my packs and walked around the trail till some couple spotted me in my tunic and pants and gave me some spare clothes to wear. I traveled with them, told them I was on a pilgrimage, I never told them I was a priest, decided to bury that bit of my life behind me."
"You forsook your oath!" Phadria gasped.
"It had already forsook me." Tylor grimaced. "At least that's how I felt, I kept telling myself, 'this is the town I stop in and make a different life for myself' and I'd walk right on through not stopping. I decided to stop one day on the side of the road when the pain wasn't so bad, or maybe my feet hurt more then my heart and I thought that would make things clearer." Tylor shrugged. "I looked a long time at my robes, they told me a lot of things, you might say I had a series of revelations."
"Visiting angels, holy light, enlightenment?" Phadria asked, not realizing how she was leaning forward.
Tylor mentally chuckled, and fought to keep a straight face.
"Well the first revelation was I needed to get them ironed, another one was I had had a grape juice stain on the cuff of my sleeve and hadn't even noticed it."
"Tylor!" Phadria sounded torn between outrage and laughter.
Luckily for him laughter won out and she smiled albeit wearily.
"I was a priest, I couldn't just up and walk away from that. That's what I figured, after getting over the image that I had been waving my hand in blessing over people for weeks with a spot of purple on those robes. Then I realized just how stupid I must of looked conducting service and waving my hand for whole chapels full of people to see that spot. It was the first time I'd laughed at myself in years. I had to question what faith is, what it meant to serve Martel and what I'd be willing to give up to the Goddess. I could go through life, give everything, and have nothing come the end, or I could make the split more honest so I wasn't cheating myself. I wasn't going to be the best priest ever turned out, but I swore I rather be a bad priest, a live priest, then an empty one."
"We are vessels for Martel…"
"Like Colette. Can you look a her when she's asleep, or playing, and say to me honestly you don't feel bad that she's going to die? Because if you don't then leave and don't ever come back under my roof ever again."
Phadria bowed her head to hide the flush of her shame, for she had that thought even as she tucked her grandchild in every night or read her a story.
"In that we are both poor priests." The old woman said softly.
Tylor nodded, a grin on his face as he reached across the table and cupped her face so she was looking at him in the eyes. As if he was the elder, the superior, and she -who was in truth both to him- a mere child.
"In that we are enlightened blessed, for I think we might just be seeing a little better then everyone else."
"To be enlightened is to see the truth, to see by Martel's truth." Old words, uniform, dictated to be spoken by the Book.
"We see by the suns light, but we don't look into the sun to do so. No one can look into the sun without going blind." Tylor smiled. "I knew a drunk in Triet who literally struck himself blind trying to have a staring contest with the sun."
Phadria considered then stood.
"I don't know… I don't think my ways are wrong… we do what we must to save the world. To aid the Chosen and purify the world is our sacred duty."
Tylor nodded, but when he looked at her there was a hint of doubt in his eyes, a doubt that she realized that she now had too.
"We might be poor priests, but better poor then empty. Tell Catling I'm feeling fine, that I'm just tired from turning into "Tiger Tylor," to "Kitty Tylor stuck in a tree till two past noon with a crazy green dog barking at him,". That'll give her a laugh. I'll hang up my bell boots for a year if it doesn't."
Phadria smiled, a small smile, trust Tylor to make her leave with one. But then if there was an unspoken motto with this strangest of priests it's that everyone he meets must leave with a smile. He escorted her to the door, opened it for her as if she was some great lady of PalmaCosta. She turned only once to see him on the porch of his home, adjusting his many buttoned vest and giving the Iselia forest a thoughtful look. He walked on booted feet (It was to her great surprise that he owned a set of boots with no bells) to the forest, and if she was to make a wager –which she would have if she was not forbidden to by her holy oath- she would have figured the off duty priest to be going to pay Lloyd and Dirk a visit. She should scold him, should write of this in her repot to the Hierarchy of Voices in PalmaCosta. She decided not to, for perhaps he was right. Tapping her staff against the dusty path she picked her way back to the temple, and she did not lift her gaze to the lift of the Goddess and bask in it as before, rather she used it to look around. And how little the world had changed, how unchanged it was, she had convinced herself that nothing had really changed. She knew nothing had changed until she thought of her granddaughter, and then how much it all changed, how twisted the straight road became. But at leas now she could see a little better, for not looking up into the sun.